I’ve been watching Real Road Adventures by Jeff Wilson on PBS Passport/ Vimeo, fascinated by the idea of eco-focused, electric travel in Europe. Wilson drives an EV to his destinations, exploring sweet mountain villages and hiking snowy backcountry trails. The show made me want even more insights into what sustainability looks like in cities and towns today.
So, when I came across the new Nissan Electric Travel Guide, with the goal of “helping travelers add new destinations to their sustainable journeys,” I was immediately hooked. Off I went into virtual exploration of what electric travel to sustainable destinations would look like, with stops in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia.
Electric travel, the guide outlined, can now take a driver from repurposed buildings and locally sourced meals to eco-responsible hotels — bringing EV drivers along on a sustainable adventure. I was following the same itinerary across the 4 countries that Nissan tested with its 100% electric Ariya.
To begin to navigate the site, I picked a region I’d like to explore. I’ve always wanted to visit Vienna and to become immersed in the great music halls and museums. Before I could start to examine cultural sites on the Electric Travel Guide, however, I was reminded that I would be driving an electric car, and part of my road vacation planning would be to identify picturesque routes in must-see locations but also to build in plenty of stops to rest and recharge along the way — both for myself and my car.
I clicked on the suggested hotel and learned that “Boutiquehotel Stadthalle is the first hotel in Vienna with a zero-energy balance. As a hotel that takes environmental consciousness seriously, the establishment produces their own clean electricity all year. In addition to the interior courtyard garden, the hotel has a lavender roof which is home to bees that produce the honey they serve.” Okay! This is the kind of sustainable travel information that I seek.
Danube Island was next. It is a leisure space that offers people-powered swimming, cycling, boating, rowing, beach volleyball, and surfing. There was no information about how the infrastructure that supported the family beach, water playground, climbing park, and the world’s biggest floating trampoline center was powered, though. These were details I thought I would get as a given for electric travel.
I skipped past other natural sites of interest and landed on a restaurant called Habibi & Hawara. Its focus is on equity opportunities for people with refugee and migrant backgrounds serving an “Austrian-Oriental fusion” meal. Another restaurant, Luftburg Kolarik, offers traditional Austrian cuisine in the middle of the Wiener Prater Amusement Park. Ecological and social sustainability is an essential part of this largest fully certified organic restaurant in the world. Did you see the recent New York Times carbon self-assessment that included the startling statement that plant-based eating is essential for the world to achieve global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels? It’s true, and both these restaurants fit the sustainability bill well as a result.
A cultural stop at the MAK – Museum of Applied Arts was reported to hold a unique collection of applied arts, design, contemporary art, and architecture with a curation that melds “powerful combination of past and future.” Probably sustainably situated more in the idea than physical realm, the description offered no information about how the building was heated and cooled, how its water is sourced, or how its resources are gathering in a circular fashion. The same gap of sustainability criteria applied to the Museums Quartier Wien, Palmenhaus, Prater Wien Amusement Park, and the Vienna State Opera House — all really cool cultural sites that I hope to visit one day, but I lacked a sense of how their mission statements adhered to setting and achieving sustainability goals.
How Ready is the Electric Travel Experience — Really?
Global travelers are increasingly prioritizing impact and purpose while planning their trips. As many as 8 out of 10 (81%1) agree they want to travel to destinations where they can immerse themselves into the local culture, according to the Nissan Newsroom, while 6 out of 10 (62%) say they want to be more thoughtful about where and how they travel.
In order to help global travelers enjoy more conscious holidays, the Nissan Electric Travel Guide has curated a novel mix of culture, cuisine, and nature while connecting must-see spots along picturesque routes. Mixing dining options, hotel recommendations, local attractions, and EV charging points along the journey, the Guide is an early entry into a new era of travel where charging must be part of the planning experience.
The environmental and financial benefits of eco-driving are well known and enhance the psychological impact of engaging in sustainable behaviors. Research indicates that introduction of eco-routing significantly reduces the energy consumption and emissions by up to 37% while having a slight increase of total travel time and routing distance. But what seems clear, both from the Nissan Electric Travel Guide and Wilson’s PBS show, is that the travel industry has not yet fully embraced zero energy and sustainability goals. As more do so, travel advisors will become robust in their eco-suggestions and also more discerning in the sustainability sites they recommend.
The effects of emissions and their adverse influences on the planet’s health are growing concerns for all related to the environment. The idea of all electric travel, its benefits and constraints, has become a common thread of interest among the EV community.
Sustainability is at the core of Nissan’s long-term vision, Ambition 2030. The company has adopted a long term vision for empowering mobility and beyond for a cleaner, safer, and more inclusive world. Nissan Ambition 2030 guides how the company will deliver value by empowering journeys and society through electrified vehicles and technological innovations.
Responding to critical environmental, societal, and customer needs, this strategy sets out to deliver electrified models and technological innovation in key markets globally, empowering mobility and beyond. Ambition 2030 supports Nissan’s goal to be carbon neutral across the life cycle of its products and operations by 2050.
“Sustainability drives our efforts to accelerate the shift to an electrified future. In addition to being a guiding principle for us all, we recogniae that it is a mindset,” said Friederike Kienitz, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Corporate Affairs and Governance, Nissan AMIEO. “The Nissan Electric Travel Guide bridges the gap between electric vehicles and the lifestyle considerations that are key to achieving sustainability. It connects the dots between the car you drive and the best local destinations, restaurants, and experiences, helping you plan a unique, authentic, and sustainable holiday.”
The Nissan Electric Travel Guide has the right idea. Right now, it’s stuck in a muddy place where the desire for fully sustainable travel isn’t quite within grasp. As more sites within the tourism industry go zero emissions, sustainable travel options will increase. It’s a fun future about which to think.
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